Never-before-seen alien minerals found in ancient meteorite

Geologists have discovered alien minerals in an ancient meteorite found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland that have never been seen on Earth before.
By Delila James | Dec 19, 2017
Geologists have discovered alien minerals in an ancient meteorite found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland that have never been seen on Earth before.

The discovery is detailed in the journal Geology.

While investigating an ancient lava flow on the island, lead author Simon Drake and co-author Andrew Beard from the University of London stumbled upon the bizarre collection of minerals.

"When we looked at the rock to start off with, it was very, very strange indeed. It looked completely out of place. We were staggered," Drake told Newsweek.

Following analysis of the minerals with electron microphobes, the researchers concluded that the rock was not of earthly origin.

"The most compelling evidence really is the presence of vanadium-rich and niobium-rich osbornite," Drake says. "Neither of these have ever been found on Earth before. We have these minerals totally enclosed in native iron, which itself is not of this planet."

The team also found reidite in the samples, suggesting the minerals came from meteorites.

"If you have a meteorite impact at extreme pressures, the mineral zircon will concert to a much denser material," Drake explains. "This instantaneous conversion from zircon to reidite has only ever been discovered on Earth at meteor impact sites."

Geologists are interested in the Isle of Skye because it was formed by violent volcanic activity.

"Whilst we can't say that the volcanological evolution of Skye was started by a meteorite, we think it was definitely a driver for that impact," Drake told Newsweek.

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